Connor McFayden


Environmental Studies, Community and Regional Planning, Natural Resources and Environmental Economics

University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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2020 Community: Ravenna

Focus: Community and Economic Development, Community Marketing

Ravenna has a long list of projects the students will focus on, including organizing and running a Big Idea competition, research planning and fundraising for a bike and hike trail, and increasing civic engagement by encouraging residents to subscribe to a community texting notification service to receive community updates via text messaging. In addition, students will use existing and new photographs and video to create marketing materials for the community.

Students: Connor McFaydenKori SiebertAndromede UwaseEthan Weiche
Innovators: Amber RossGena McPherson

Sponsored By: Ravenna Chamber of Commerce, Ravenna Economic Development Corporation

Why did you choose the Fellowship Program?

I want to make a difference in my state. This program gives me the perfect opportunity to do that.

What do you hope to gain?

I hope that I will gain a deeper understanding of the issues facing rural Nebraska and what steps can be taken to address them, as well as experience in working with and supporting communities.

Why is it important that students develop inclusive leadership development?

I think it is crucial to develop inclusive leaders in order to address the complex issues we face now and into the future. The best teacher is experience, and this program promises to provide a lot of that.

Why should students work in rural communities?

I am concerned that my generation has written off rural communities as stagnant and unimportant. Experiences like these can reveal the opportunities and importance of the communities that support the metropolises we are all familiar with.

Why is it important students give back to Nebraska?

Nebraska is my home. I owe everything I am to the people here. I can’t pay it all back, but I can contribute to the communities that raised me.

What new opportunities exist today to help move rural communities forward? What are your ideas?

I think the increasing connectivity our world experiences through technology is a great catalyst for growth in rural communities. Connecting businesses and people through this network can have a phenomenal impact on the communities that have felt disconnected from the mainstream for generations.